The NFL coaching carousel is finally in full swing in what the NFL media community is calling "Black Monday," as five coaches were fired. The Redskins' Mike Shanahan and his entire staff was put out of its misery following a gutter-dump of a 3-13 season and his tumultuous relationship with The Crown Prince of Chocolate City.
In four years as Redskins HC Shanahan was 24-40 with one winning season of 10-6 in 2012. Robert Griffin III's untimely knee injuries and the public verbal jousting between RG3's camp and The Shanahan's, forced owner Dan Gilbert's hand. What started out as a solid idea turned into a disaster of epic proportions and has definitely tainted Shanahan's legacy as a HC.
Either way, Shanahan says he has no hard feelings on the way out.
"This is the best when you take a look at what the franchise has done," Shanahan said of his tenure with Washington," and the opportunities the organization affords you as a head football coach and a staff, you cant feel better."
After Cleveland's first five game of the NFL season, hometown honcho and rookie coach Rob Chudzinksi was rolling and writing a nationally captivating story, sitting at 3-2 and in first place in the AFC North. Unfortunately, injuries and the quickly-turning tides of NFL life sunk Cleveland to a 1-10 ending, which resulted in Chudzinski's demise. Some heads feel that he was fired prematurely, but Cleveland's ownership is tired of finishing 4-12 and the quick start and subsequent collapse was probably as much a detriment to Chudzinski's future as anything. He offered a taste of hope, and then the Browns turned right back into the doormat franchise they've been.
That's just too much for Browns ownership to handle, and they must not have seen much potential or point in moving forward with Chud. One-and-done is a real thing in the high-stakes NFL, but there's something to be said for stability at the HC position. To put things in perspective, Cleveland's division-rival Pittsburgh Steelers have had three coaches since 1969. The Browns have had three coaches since 2012. The firing hasn't pleased Cleveland's players either, as one unidentified player was quoted by Rich Eisen on NFL Network as saying, "the organization is a joke."
The dismissal of Minnesota Viking's coach Leslie Frazier is considered by some to be the surprise firing of "Black Monday." Speaking on the NFL Network, former NFL HC Mike Martz, was against the firing, which also lowers the number of African-American NFL head coaches to two; Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals). Frazier didn't exactly light it up in Minnesota going 21-32-1 in four seasons, including just one winning season with Adrian Peterson (10-6 in 2012). In Frazier's defense, he is considered extremely knowledgeable, capable and a class act by the NFL community. If he had anything resembling a QB, his Vikings record would have been much better.
"The Vikings were a total mess this season with the QB situation being all over the place," said NFL Network analyst Steve Wyche. "When you have Christain Ponder…and have to play against Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler and Mathew Stafford. That's not a fair fight."
Lions coach Jim Schwartz was hired in 2009 to transform a Detroit team that was reeling from a historically inept 0-16 season. For the first three seasons, he did just that, but the last two years of inconsistency and a late-season slip cost him his gig with two years and almost $12 million remaining on his deal. Detroit stumbled to a 7-9 record after a hot 6-3 start positioned them to win their first NFC North title since 1993. Schwartz was 29-51 in five seasons, including a 10-6 record in 2011 that boosted the Lions to their only postseason appearance this century. Now he's looking for work.
With former Texans HC Gary Kubiak getting the axe earlier this last month, there are now four available spots out of the 32 existing NFL HC gigs. It's expected that a couple of more openings will surface and some hirings will be made by the time the Super Bowl ends.
Lovie Smith was interviewed for the Texans job but you also keep hearing Wade Phillps' name and ESPN's Adam Schefter is saying Houston is close to a deal with Bill O'Brien at Penn State. The Ravens' season is done at 8-8, so hopefully OC Jim Caldwell can lock down one of those openings. That in itself is an interesting dynamic to watch. As stated in a previous TSL story, "Fritz Pollard Alliance Plays Truth Or Dare With Houston Texans' HC Hiring," organization chairman John Wooten said his team has sent a list of qualified minority candidates for Houston to review.
Wooten said the leading names on the list include Bengals assistant coach and former Raiders HC Hue Jackson, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton, (Lovie) Smith and (Jim) Caldwell. Other up-and-coming minority candidates include defensive coordinator Mel Tucker (Chicago), and NFL assistants Winston Moss and Darren Perry (Green Bay) and Houston QBs coach Karl Dorrell.
When asked what can be done to change this trend which hit rock bottom last season, when no African-Americans were hired to fill the league's abundance of HC vancancies, former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum said, "the leagues been proactive this year with finding minority candidates and also put out a list of coaches, so I think we will see a change in that this year."
With more openings popping up, maybe one of these young brothers will get a crack at the ultimate power position in football, making this latest mass execution of NFL coaches a true Black Monday.